A man pushing a shopping cart across Canada made a stop in Steinbach Monday, to share his message with students at Clearspring Middle School.
Joe Roberts who grew up in Ontario, but resides in BC, was homeless as a youth. It was because a Police Officer recognized him as a person in need of help rather than as a threat, that made the difference in his life.
Roberts says 235,000 Canadians find themselves homeless every year, and 20% of them are youth between the ages of 13 and 24. He says he chose to push a shopping cart across our nation to raise awareness, with the hope of ending homelessness.
Roberts says most homelessness goes unseen. "You might not see a young person sitting on a piece of cardboard here in Steinbach but the issues that create homelessness include things like family conflict, generational poverty, abuse, drugs, and depression, things that create the environment for a young person to find themselves in the outer circle, so leaving home too early exists."
Roberts says, "A shopping cart represents chronic homelessness, and we are trying to avoid that for all young Canadians. Nobody has pushed a shopping cart across Canada, so we built our campaign and brought along our sponsors."
For his first speaking engagement in Manitoba, he shared his story of homelessness and offered the hope to local students. He told them they can do extraordinary things with their life if they have the courage to take a few steps forward. Because of the many steps he's taken on his trek across the country, he's worn through at least 12 pairs of sneakers and several winter boots. Roberts says when he's done with each pair, they are donated to the homeless.
On May 1, 2016, Roberts and his crew left St. John's Newfoundland, 352 days and 6,400 km later, he is half-way across the country in Steinbach. He plans to share his message with young people across Canada as he pushes his shopping cart to his final destination on September 29, 2017, in Vancouver, BC.